Waking up to my sweet, smiling boy, I realize it wasn’t a dream. This is my reality. My child is warm and giggly and oh so affectionate.
So why isn’t this enough?
As my husband pours Jack’s morning cereal and I load his Toy Story toothbrush with toothpaste, I can’t help but feel racked with guilt. Looking around our home, I feel so much love. I feel the warmth of the heat under my bare feet that we’re fortunate enough to have on this cold winter morning, I hear Jack’s voice floating from the kitchen where he’s eating his breakfast and chattering away about the Fitbit he wants for his birthday, and I see our beloved little dog, Bailey, running up and down the hallway, tail wagging, eagerly awaiting her morning walk.
Again I ask, why isn’t this enough?
I feel like I’m in a deep state of mourning. For the past year and a half, my husband, Mike, and I have been trying to have a second child. Thus far, we’ve been unsuccessful. All the charting and temping and testing and praying in the world hasn’t helped with our infertility. To say I feel empty would be the understatement of a lifetime.
Mike is an excellent father to my son Jack, though he came into his life when Jack was 3 after a bitter divorce and hugely dysfunctional marriage. We were childhood friends who reconnected after my divorce, and more children were never on our radar. As fate would have it though, after Mike fell in love with Jack and we got married, thoughts of baby-making soon infected our brains and our hearts. I had been pregnant twice before, once ending in an early miscarriage and once yielding the most beautiful, healthy, happy, and chubby baby boy anybody could ask for. How hard could this be? We were on it.
One month turned to two turned to three and soon a feeling of dread set it. Each month I felt as though my body was at war with me. We were doing everything “right.” We’re deeply in love, we’re good parents, we’re college-educated, and Mike is a very respected and successful chef. So what could the problem be?
Soon I found myself crying in my gynecologist’s office and being scheduled for a myriad of tests. After much poking, prodding, looking, and donating samples, we were relieved to find everything was normal. Yes! Maybe it was just a matter of time.
More time passed, though, and still, nothing happened. As friends joyfully announced their pregnancies, I smiled, hugged, and congratulated them. Genuinely happy for my soon-to-be-mommy friends, I couldn’t help but cry behind closed doors. I felt so guilty for feeling sorry for myself, but the truth is, I did feel sorry for myself. I so badly wanted to see a “+” sign just one more time. I so badly wanted to see my husband’s infectious smile as I presented him with the news that it was finally our turn.
An entire year has passed now, and after visiting yet another OB-GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, we still have no answers as to the cause of our infertility. At this point, I feel like I’ve lost something. What it is, I’m not sure. The guilt is quite possibly worse than the mourning. How dare I feel sorry for myself? I have so much. I’m so blessed already. Some people never experience pregnancy or childbirth, and I was fortunate enough to feel Jack move and grow inside of me. My body did what it was supposed to do. It built a healthy strong baby and nursed him exclusively.
Not only was I blessed with a healthy child, but I found love again in my husband—real, honest, deeply passionate love that swept me off my feet. How dare I pity myself? I can’t help it though. I feel broken. I feel empty. And I feel afraid. I fear that when Mike and I are gone Jack will have no one to recount stories of “Ma and Dad” with. I fear he will never know the love of a sibling the way both Mike and I do. I share a bond with my sisters and my brother that is absolutely unbreakable. They are each part of me. They know me down to my very core, and for them, I will always be grateful. I fear Jack will never know this bond. And I fear it’s entirely my fault.
Refusing to give up and admittedly terrified, we’ll keep trying. I’ll keep taking the prenatals “just in case,” and Mike will continue taking Zinc to optimize the quality of his sperm. I’m not sure if we’ll ever stop. As a matter of fact, in just a few short days, we have yet another appointment with a reported “rock star” of reproductive endocrinology. Maybe she will be able to help us? Maybe this time will finally be enough.
Walking into the kitchen where my husband and Jack are still eating their breakfast, I realize that this may very well end up being the family we ultimately have: Mike, Jack, Bailey and myself. Standing in that kitchen doorway gazing at and listening to my precious son and my genuinely loving husband, my eyes well up and a smile spreads across my tired and scared face. These tears are not due to another negative pregnancy test or another friend’s pregnancy announcement, though. Instead, these are tears of love and gratitude. For in this moment, I realize this is enough. We are a happy and healthy family, rich in love and mutual respect. If this is how our family is meant to be structured, this is enough for me.